I was in high school band for a little while and I remember what halftime shows look like. You play a bunch of songs around a central theme — Hollywood movies, patriotism, musics from the 1970s, etc. — and create formations that (hopefully) look good to the crowd.
At Leeds High School in Alabama, they went in a very different direction. It’s so egregiously bad that the Freedom From Religion Foundation is urging them to stop before a lawsuit is filed.
A concerned parent has reported that the Leeds High School band performs a halftime show that is designed to resemble a Christian church service. We understand the performance features Christian themed music and involves church pews set up on the field to resemble a church service… We understand [that] some of the songs performed during this show include: Will the Circle be Unbroken, I Saw the Light, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee, and Amazing Grace. The parent also reports that Chip Wise, the band director, has said that members of the band who do not support this religious routine can “drop out of band.”
How much more blatant can you get?
“The band director’s actions are way over the line,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “In a secular setup, he cannot be permitted to foist his religion on others.”
The District’s Superintendent John J. Moore told AL.com that there were no “plans to stop the show,” though FFRF’s complaint was handed over to an attorney. Moore could easily have rejected the allegation altogether, saying that the halftime show wasn’t Christian propaganda and FFRF was misinterpreting the show… but he didn’t do that. I guess it needs to go through a lawyer first.
And to be clear, there’s nothing wrong with playing classical music that might have religious themes, but when you only play music honoring the Christian God, and it’s part of a performance that looks like a church service, and the band director says those who aren’t supportive of the show should drop out, the evidence becomes overwhelming. And it points to something illegal.
There’s no way this show would have gone on if it was promoting Islam. But the people defending the show on social media seem unable to see the parallel.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)